The Nigeria Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NNRA) has called for intensive media involvement and sensitisation on its operations for nuclear safety and radiological protection in the country.
Dr Yau Idris, NNRA Director-General and Chief Executive Officer made the call on Wednesday in Abuja while opening its fifth National Workshop for Correspondents on Nuclear Safety and Radiological Protection.
The newsmen report that NNRA was established by the Nuclear Safety and Radiation Protection Act 1995 with the responsibilities for nuclear safety and radiological protection regulation in Nigeria.
NNRA’s effective operation to register, licence, inspect and enforce nuclear safety and radiological protection, however, began in May, 2001.
Idris, represented by Dr Nasiru Bello, General Manager, Nuclear Safety, Physical Security and Safeguards, called for an improved understanding of its operation.
He urged the media to promote its image through rightly informed reportage for national development.
Mrs Ekaette Bassey, Head, Information and Protocol Unit, NNRA while highlighting the media’s role as an important stakeholder in ensuring nuclear security, described the media as an influencer of public opinion.
In a presentation entitled ‘The Media as a Strategic Stakeholder in Ensuring Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety, she underscored the need for nuclear communication.
“Nuclear safety covers the actions taken to prevent nuclear and radiation accidents or to limit their consequences.
“This covers nuclear power plants as well as all other nuclear facilities, the transportation of nuclear materials, and the use and storage of nuclear materials for medical, agriculture, power, industry, research and mining,” she said.
She noted that common exposure from radiative sources like X-ray machines, ionising radiation types like Alpha and Beta particles, Gamma and Neutrons could cause death, burns, cancer, thyroid, irritations and serious health conditions.
“Public opinion research shows that most people are scared of any “nuclear” topic but some would love to know more especially as it concerns safety issues and the capacity of the regulatory authority to control ionising radiation sources and respond to accidents.
“Consistent and sustained relationship with the mass media will engage the public on issues about nuclear and radiological safety, thereby influencing opinions and encouraging behavioural changes and projection of nuclear security in Nigeria,” she said.
Also speaking, Mr John Adamu of Legal and International Cooperation Unit, NNRA noted that globally there was a call for effective nuclear regulation.
Adamu explained that for any nation to apply for nuclear, there must be an established regulatory infrastructure and legal framework.
He listed some of its challenges as passage of Nuclear Safety, Security and Safeguard (NSSS) bill, capacity building on regulating nuclear power plant and detecting terrorist funding of nuclear activities.
He listed others as inadequate funding and need to enhance detective capabilities with special equipment.
Adamu said that there was need to verify quality of production of safety components with the cooperation of the Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) to avoid being a dumping ground.